Interesting times require innovative solutions! And that’s why I’m genuinely excited to tell folks about the First Ever Blandin Broadband Virtual Dispersed Conference. I’m on the planning team; and while I love the annual get-togethers, it might be fair to say I was most enthusiastic about creating somethign new this year. I am so excited!!
The world is in flux and broadband seems to be at the center of it. The COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines on social distancing are creating the need and opportunity to do things differently, often with an online element. Meanwhile, the internet and social media are allowing people from all over the world in real time to witness and participate first-hand in the movement to end racial inequities in Minnesota and nationwide.
From telework to distance learning to keeping in touch with family and friends; from citizen journalism to starting a movement online; one thing is certain – access to broadband and the skills to use it is more important than ever.
So the conference planning team has decided to lean in, to take advantage of the technology we’ve been promoting for so long to meet the educational, professional, and civic needs of the attendees and hopefully demonstrate new ways to work and meet that you can bring back to your community.
What does this mean? Picture a month of broadband Sundays. (Not really, but sort of!)
The conference will be entirely virtual – but that doesn’t mean just a series of online lectures. We have created different opportunities for discussion, interaction and collaboration and a few traditional presentations to happen over the course of four weeks. Here’s a rough outline: (More to share later!)
- Week 1 (Oct 5-8): three mornings of “in real time” online events including speakers and small group discussion
- Weeks 2 and 3 (Oct 9-26): customized programming based on your level of involvement and interest with special sessions, a chance to pilot future programming, a book club, regular online space just to chat, mentor match-making with host of local and national experts arranged by the planning team, a virtual happy hour. You choose your level of involvement. No expectations – only opportunities.
- Week 4 (Oct 27-29): mirroring the first with three mornings of “in real time” online events including speakers and small group discussion.
We’ll group folks in cohorts so you won’t need to feel like you’re traversing the terrain alone. And we’re lining up speakers to include experts, practitioners and researchers who know broadband infrastructure, policy and digital equity. I am so excited about the speakers we have – but I’ll build up some suspense now. Just let you know what’s coming.
Please let me know if you have any questions. This is the 16th conference. We’re all pretty used to the “regular way” and this year will be different in the same way kindergarten roundup is different from college drop off. Still very cool – but new.